When my travel schedule allows, I take hundreds of pictures and stitch them together to create a time lapse. It is not always possible because tripods are bulky and heavy when backpacking, and I frequently forget my intervalometer, which is crucial for capturing a smooth time lapse. Time lapses are teaching me to be patient and to look for places that have movement. It involves learning on and off my camera with photo stitching and editing coming into play.
The good, the bad, and the meh. This statement best describes my time lapses from Yosemite, which I have shared below. I am not leaving any out because I want to share what I have learned. It is important to note that time lapses are hard, and it can take several attempts before getting the right exposure/setting.
Note: I always shoot in Manual Mode and Manual Focus, along with taking my ISO off of auto and change my photo size to Medium (RAW takes up too much memory).
I was worried that the sunset would make the foreground too dark. My settings were too bright making the voluminous clouds over expose. I tried to edit the sky a little in Photoshop, but the final product was not what I was hoping for.
The lighting was perfect. I was able to take a few test shots when the sun hit Cathedral Peak and when it was behind a cloud. This one is one of my favorites.
Shadows of a Tree
Even with magnificent landscapes, it is important to get movement in time lapse photography. There were few clouds rolling over the mountains that I was capturing for this specific time lapse. I chose the location for the cool tree in the foreground. However, the sun did not dance around the mountains nor did the shadows move the way I was hoping. The clouds ended up dissipating before appearing in my frame. If I have time in the future, I will take 5 to 10 minutes to watch the cloud movements. This will allow me to know if I am using 2 or 3 second intervals or if the location is worth it at all.
Echo Peaks at Night
Night time lapses are always difficult for me. I have to make sure that the images are as sharp as possible. This particular one I debated having Echo Peaks or Cathedral Peak as a foreground. Since I had a day time lapse of Cathedral Peak, I figured I would mix up my landscapes. I used a high ISO setting and low F-stop with 30 second exposure. I was also worried about the battery life, but it stayed on the whole time. I made sure to keep my display off to save battery since my shutter was set to 30 seconds.
Cathedral Pass #1
I inputted my off-brand camera battery hoping it would not die. The camera stopped taking pictures before time was up. I thought it was because the battery died, but my memory card was full. I then tried it again after inserting a new memory card, but then my battery died a few minutes later! UGH. However, it ended up being long enough with 24 frames per second, which means I did not need to do the next time lapse. Better to be safe than sorry.
Cathedral Pass #2
I was really hoping after inserting a new SD card and camera battery that the sun would light up the landscape. Lighting was my only issue for this time lapse because the sun went behind a massive cloud and did escape for another hour after I stopped my time lapse. It turns out the first attempt with the good lighting turned out to be long enough. It is always better to try when you are there instead of finding out it was unsuccessful while processing at home.
The final product:
After changing my image sizes and batch editing my photos in Photoshop, I used VirtualDub to stitch my photos into a time lapse. I also used Windows Live Movie Maker to add the music to the videos.
What challenges have you experienced creating time lapses?
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